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Former Member

Here’s a riddle for you: What do all customers want that’s easy to give, yet many companies fail to provide, especially across multiple channels? Customer engagement. If you don’t have your customers' attention, then you don’t have their business, loyalty or advocacy. Often times, companies fail to provide effective engagement. In order to win your customers over, you need to listen and give your marketers and sales teams the resources they need to engage in a two-way dialogue.

There are 2.4 billion brand-related conversations in America every day. Your website, store or phone line is no longer the first stop for prospects when they want to inform themselves. You don’t drive the conversation. Your community of customers, prospects, and interested bystanders are leading the conversation about your brand, whether you like it or not. These drastic changes in the way customers interact with brands means companies are battling for attention with increasingly less effective methods. In the game for customers’ attention, businesses can succeed by addresses the three levels of customer needs:

1. Get in the game – it’s about efficiency. The second level of customer engagement isn’t always easy to achieve, but being efficient in how you communicate with customers will help secure and protect your brand advocacy.

Think about it. How many times have you called a customer service department, given them your name and account information and once transferred to another agent, they ask you again for the same information? Providing a seamless experience across all channels, giving customers answers in real-time and offering new ways to solve their problems are the hallmark of best-in-class customer service.

By responding to and addressing customers concerns in a timely fashion, you will see greater
loyalty and commitment to your brand’s success. To reach the top of the hierarchy and separate themselves from the pack, though, businesses must work to address their customers as individuals.

2. Win the Game – it’s about effectiveness. Just as humans need food and water to survive, companies need effective customer engagement to survive – it’s a basic function that all businesses must now adopt. Being effective in understanding your customer’s unique challenges is no longer a choice, it’s a necessity. As people turn to online information, social networks, and communities to inform themselves, they are engaging with sales people much later in the buying cycle. You now need to understand your customers’ issues and preferences sooner rather than later, and be effective in bringing them new approaches to achieving business objectives through the platforms they’re most comfortable with.

For example, half of the time users are online, they’re using mobile devices. According to a recent SAP survey, already 27 percent of mobile users purchase products or services online, and 80 percent say they want to buy more on their mobile devices. Mobile usage has created such a radical shift in how consumers and businesses interact with each other that digital marketers must have a deep understanding of how consumers use their devices. That’s the only way they can be effective in developing mobile marketing strategies that deliver the right experience to each mobile user.

Once a company has achieved effective customer engagement, they must continue to adapt to garner more loyal customers in the customer engagement hierarchy.

3. Change the game - it’s about 1:1 customer interaction. The final and hardest level of engaging your customers is realizing the full potential of the relationship. Believing that the goal of customer engagement is to make a sale or considering every customer service call as an instance of customer engagement, will only result in a loss. In order to win and survive, customer engagement needs to be viewed as customer’s experience with you – a personal encounter and not a business transaction.

Part of this process is the need to apply new processes and technologies to develop the insights needed to anticipate and respond to customers’ unpredictable and ever-changing buying journeys. No customer is ever the same and using the same approach across the board only creates frustration and disappointment with customer service.

T-Mobile is a good example of a company that is winning the game using integration and analytics to fine-tune its knowledge of what customers really want. Using a number of analytics tools and systems, the wireless provider uses 250 data elements -- such as type of device, how often customers buy a new phone and tenure with the company -- to create highly relevant sales promotions targeted at specific customer segments. For instance, customers who consistently go over their minutes might be offered an upgrade to a different plan, while long-term customers might be offered a free phone upgrade.

By targeting your customers’ needs and creating a personalized customer experience, you can win the game by turning customers into brand promoters– a positive extension for your voice.

To connect with today’s consumer, you need to change the game in order to win the game, just as Xbox revolutionizedthe gaming world. Throwing out controllers and using bodies to control the game, Xbox changed the way technology immerses the whole player in the experience.

That’s exactly what needs to happen with your customer engagement. Throw out the controller. Get rid of the barriers and start building a customer engagement program that delivers a game changing experience for your customers. From the basic need of being effective to being efficient and personal, you can create a seamless customer journey that’s mutually beneficial.

Learn how T-Mobile is redefining the customer experience with social service, and how you can too. Watch the webcast >

This article originally appeared on WIRED.